The Rise and Consolidation of Pre-Bid Data

Online advertising moves fast. One day, a technology is brand new, the next there’s an entire segment of thriving companies doing similar things. Not so long ago RTB was the newest tool, but we’re already seeing greater adoption and the emergence of tools supporting it. The future will see a massive growth in these RTB supplements, particularly in the pre-bid data space.

In the world of automated real-time buying, marketers often have little information about the page before their ad appears. They’ve been pushing for a preemptive blocking technology to keep their ads out of sensitive environments, and that’s why pre-bid data has grown in popularity and necessity.

But it’s not simply a measure of brand safety. RTB transactions happen in less than 100 milliseconds, so the more information available up front, the better. Pre-bid data lets advertisers target  more precisely, focusing on certain page quality points they didn’t have access to before. With improved data, advertisers can target something as specific as travel segments on large news sites -- impossible in RTB without this kind of data.

Pre-bid providers are generally coming from two different starting points. Former display verification companies realize that preventative brand safety is better than reactive safety, so they’re keeping ads out of inappropriate environments. The semantic/page level companies are approaching pre-bid data from more of an analytical angle. It’s not necessarily about brand safety, but a page’s overall quality, determined by an ad’s position, size, or relation to other ads on the page).

With these multiple approaches, we’re going to see the segment explode in the next six to nine months. We’ll likely see even greater advancements in segment modeling based on URL data, potentially with uses we haven’t even touched on here.

That’s not to say these companies will prosper without difficulty. Pre-bid data requires a heavy financial investment up-front to process all the data, and that’s a difficult business model to sustain. As the segment grows, expect platforms to buy up the pre-bid data companies, the same way DSPs and networks integrated dynamic creative. These products are natural fits for existing display services, but aren’t the best business models on their own. RTB’s future depends on them, and while the segment will grow, we’ll see it shake up a bit more.

 Christopher Hansen, President, Netmining

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